Introduce yourself! What should the world know about you? 

Johnny is an Indigenous leader who grew up steeped in the traditional lifeways of his Wanapum (River People) ancestors in a small, tight-knit village community in southcentral Washington State along the Columbia River. He is proud to carry on the sacred practices of his culture and spiritual tradition that are intimately intertwined with the many ecosystems of the Pacific Northwest, including fishing, hunting, and gathering many plant foods and medicines throughout the region. Johnny believes everyone deserves the opportunity to connect with nature to strengthen and restore our ancient relationships and reliance on our natural world and each other.

What are you passionate about? 

I am passionate to connect with the power of our natural world. I will travel into the high forested land during the peak of the green-ness to get access to the highest quality air. I will spend long periods of time just connecting with fresh air and the plant world. Hiking the natural terrain gives physical activity that nurtures parts of me that can be satisfied in urban settings. I have a reliance on connection with the natural world that is healing and rejuvenating. I am passionate about protecting, preserving, and perpetuating the inherent relationship between people and nature.

What drives you as a person, a leader, and a storyteller? What or who shapes you?

Unique and powerful stories are fulfilling and satisfying to my core as a person. I am driven and fueled by great stories and I believe everyone has a narrative. I love listening to storytellers and I am very intentional to support my aspiration to tell meaningful and impactful stories. My family communicates through storytelling and I have so much to learn about this art/skill. I have been shaped by my elders through storytelling. One thing that I have learned from great storytelling is to be a good listener.

Why did you apply to the Rethink Outside™ Fellowship? What are you hoping to learn from this experience? 

I am hoping to learn how to amplify the voices of leaders wanting to connect people and nature. I want to learn how to network and collaborate with a community of diverse leaders from across the United States who share Rethink Outside values and messaging.

How will the Rethink Outside™ Fellowship experience help you address the systemic barriers for access to, and representation / leadership of Black, Indigenous, and people of color in the movement to connect people and nature? 

The Rethink Outside Fellowship experience will provide an opportunity for collaboration and relationship-building with BIPOC leaders and funders in the movement. This power building will create momentum to support each other through resource sharing. The access to broader movements will provide inspiration and a large network of support to help sustain long-term culture change to connect people and nature.

What is your favorite activity / place which connects you to nature and the outdoors?

My favorite activity is to spend weeks at a time with family to gather and preserve traditional foods in the high elevations of the Cascades during the summer months.

Get to know all of the 2021-2022 Rethink Outside™ Fellows.